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- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Before you head back to work that first day, it’s vital that you are prepared.
- Be patient. You’ve had a baby, recovered, and now you’re back at work. That’s a lot of change in a short period of time.
- Be proud and treat yourself! Whether it’s grabbing the venti Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino on the way to work, or going out for a celebratory dinner after work – do something to reward yourself.
Congratulations - you’ve had a happy, healthy baby! By now, you’ve experienced the joy of giving birth, and the long, sleepless nights since. You’ve enjoyed every moment during your time off work caring for your new baby. But, that time is coming to an end, and you’re expected back at work soon. The question is – are you ready?
There’s really nothing that can fully prepare you for going back to work after maternity leave. For many, the thought of returning to work seems daunting and stressful. While this process is different for each new mom, there are a few things you can do to make your transition back to work easier.
1. Get ready to feel. Not-surprisingly, returning from maternity leave is an emotional process. For some, it can be a sad and overwhelming process, whereas others are excited and happy to get back to work. Others are somewhere in between. Regardless of what emotions you may (or may not) be feeling, just know that your emotions are normal.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Before you head back to work that first day, it’s vital that you are prepared. Whether you are going back full time or part time, establish a routine prior to your first day back. Outline who is going where, and what time they need to arrive. I recommend doing a trial-run of your morning beforehand, to allow you to iron out what works, and what doesn’t. Get everyone ready and in the car to make the drive just as you will on that first day. This can help get rid of those first day jitters, since you’ve already done it once.
3. Get organized – at home and at work. Prior to your first day, get as much as you can organized at home. Whether it be laying out clothes for everyone the night before, or re-organizing your coat closet, this will help you with the transition because you will feel much more in control. Identify areas in your home that cause you stress, and tackle those first. After you return to work, make it a priority to get organized there as well. Clean off your desk, clean out your inbox, update your calendar, dust of your to-do list, etc. This will help you tackle your impending workload with ease.
4. Keep lines of communication open. Sit down with your direct supervisor and outline what happens next. What are your expectations day one, week one, month one? Knowing what is expected of you, and setting realistic goals, will help prevent you from getting overwhelmed. If you have employees working under you, make some time to sit down with them as well. Identify what they need from you, and what time-sensitive requests they have. Then, update your calendar and to-do list accordingly. Taking time to prioritize your tasks from the get-go will help you in the long-run.
5. Be patient. You’ve had a baby, recovered, and now you’re back at work. That’s a lot of change in a short period of time. Give yourself some time to get readjusted. Furthermore, give those around you some time to adjust. Things may not be smooth sailing from day one, and perhaps you need time to get used to changes made while you were gone. Remember to be flexible, it will take time to get back into your normal rhythm. And don’t forget, that’s totally normal.
6. Know when to ask for help. Make sure to acknowledge when you aren’t sure what to do or are simply overwhelmed. This is a transition period, and not only does it take time to get back to where you were with your workload, it will be an emotionally taxing time (see #1 above). Be honest with your supervisor, and those around you when you need their help, or perhaps when you just need a breather.
7. Be proud and treat yourself! Whether it’s grabbing the venti Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino on the way to work, or going out for a celebratory dinner after work – do something to reward yourself. Coming back after maternity leave is challenging, and you should be proud of yourself. Often, this transition isn’t easy, but you’re working hard for a bigger purpose now.
Ultimately, returning to work at maternity leave is different for everyone. And unfortunately, there isn’t an exact science to getting yourself prepared. When the time comes, it’s important that you take time to care of yourself, and do what you can to make the process as easy as possible. Control what you can, and be flexible with the rest. Regardless of what steps you take to prepare, remember to always trust your gut. You know what’s best for you and your family. Be confident in your decisions and preparation – you got this.
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